Malik Willis throws 1st NFL TD pass, Titans beat Bucs 13-3

Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis (7) scrambles against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the...
Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis (7) scrambles against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)((AP Photo/Mark Zaleski))
Published: Aug. 20, 2022 at 9:15 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Rookie Malik Willis threw the first touchdown of his NFL career and the Tennessee Titans beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13-3 Saturday night in their exhibition home opener.

The Titans (1-1) want to see if the third-round draft pick out of Liberty can develop quickly enough to back up veteran Ryan Tannehill this season. This was Willis’ second straight start, and he showed more patience by staying in and moving around the pocket. Willis still was sacked three times while playing a series into the third quarter.

Willis also had nearly as many runs as completed passes yet again. He ran five times for 42 yards with a long of 24 yards to set up the first field goal and was 7 of 17 for 80 yards passing with a 75.6 passer rating. He capped Tennessee’s final drive of the first half by finding fellow rookie Chig Okonkwo with a 6-yard pass for the first TD of both their pro careers.

Veteran Ryan Succop, trying to hold off Jose Borregales, sneaked a 52-yard field goal over the crossbar late in the third quarter for the Bucs (0-2).

Tannehill, running back Derrick Henry, center Ben Jones, receiver Robert Woods, All-Pro safety Kevin Byard and Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons all wore ballcaps instead of helmets. Rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere started at right tackle trying to beat out Dillon Radunz for the job, then moved to the left side after veteran Taylor Lewan left.